The “War on Drugs” means big money for the International Drug Cartel trade and on down to the street dealers and pushers. That pusher who just offered your child or you a free sample of some addictive drug is a part of a huge “Money-go-Round” that those involved do not want to have stopped. As an Addictions Professional in Treatment and as a Professional Addictions Futurist for over a quarter century, I have devoted and donated much of my time and effort in getting that addictions “Money-go-Round” stopped. It is as if I am, as a private practitioner, trying to put myself out of business. That, folks, was my goal in the beginning when I first started working in this field.
For many years, it was not uncommon to see the “War on Drugs” as a front-page article in the newspapers, magazines, and on TV screens across the nation and even around the world. We were “saving the populace” from the horrors of drug addiction. MADD was influencing a reduction in alcohol-related highway carnage. The old saying “Just Say NO” was on the lips of many during the Reagan era. The “Betty Ford Center” was doing a great job in effective treatment but rarely mentioning the long-term (beyond two years) outcome studies of success and failures. Putting cigarettes in the cancer causing spotlight, and on the front page for the first time with a legitimate sound science-based statement that it was an addiction, is still running. Scientific studies support the fact that nicotine is an addictive drug, and yet the AA and NA halls were full of cigarette smoke at that time. Now, we see short articles buried on the inside pages on “addictive” medical marijuana, which by the way, has virtually no support from in-depth studies by legitamate and honest researchers as being addictive. Junk Science can use the DSM-IV-TR and manipulate signs and symptoms of addiction and call marijuana addictive when the majority of research from around the world has yet to find any solid addictive properties in pot. Of the estimated 400 compounds in the cannibis sativa or marijuane plant, there are some very useful compounds.
Marijuana has been in use for over 5000 years. Documentation of death from the use of marijuana is virtually non-existant with the exception being the problem of the “Drug Wars”. We have dealers shooting dealers and our government providing Mexican drug cartels with fully automatic weapons to fight each other and our DEA and Border Patrol Agents. And the “Money-go-Round” created by alcohol and drug abuse that continues to add an estimated $800 to $900 billion in annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remains BIG MONEY. I do not place any blame on anyone or any particular group for this problem; however, it must be corrected.
Today, science and clinical research in the addictions field is becoming a major factor in stopping the “War-on-Drugs Money-go-Round”. The old psycho-social models of AA that have been used for so long with little real success are picking up on the science- and clinical evidence-based treatment model that I and a small group of other professionals sparked back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.It is becoming the primary model of choice in addictions treatment and prevention. As a Professional Addictions Futurist, I can speculate that around the years 2020 to 2025, we will see marvelous genetic/epigenetic cures for addictions along with the mental illnesses that co-occur so frequently.
Assuming that my speculations regarding addictions are close to the target, if not right on the bullseye, that $800 to $900 billion in GDP will make a disappearing act, but hopefully not overnight. Now is the time that we demand from our State and National governments the development of a logical and workable plan to start winding down the “Money-go-Round”. No more BS about marijuana being addictive and a “gateway drug” to hard drugs and alcohol. Those of us who have been using solid, in-depth scientific studies and sound clinical research know that a true addiction develops as a result of self-medication with the wrong medication for a genetic/epigenetic-based brain disorder. Up front, the chemicals appear to really work (and in many cases, they do for a while.) Continued use will produce an ever-increasing tolerance that demands an ever-increasing amount of the drug and an increase in potency of the drug. These are the disaterous side effects that lead to addictive self destruction. On the brighter side, we have available an ever-increasing science-based knowledge of how to treat a true addiction. No more “Just Say NO”. We currently have the tools for success in treatment that will produce long-term results, not just far beyond two years, but forever. This is science and clinical evidence-based fact and not just some wishfull dreaming. Our current problem is shifting the money for treatment and prevention to not only the public sector of treatment, but also to the private sector. Families will no longer be torn apart, work careers will be saved, and lives will be saved. The winding down of that old “Money-go-Round” will have to become a gradual function. I see science and clinical evidence-based studies and research propelling us forward to that projected 2020 to 2025 goal. If it were to happen overnight with some brilliant research team coming up with the “magic pill or shot” to cure genetic/epigenetic based addictions, the blow to our current economy would be disastrous. We simply cannot afford to jerk an estimated $800 billion per year in GDP out of our total annual GDP in the U.S. It could happen, but I seriously doubt it.
Now science- and evidence-based addictions treatment is beginning to become a major player in the addictions field. The turnaround has started, and at last, long-term wellness and individual functional independence is being achieved by many. The winding-down process is beginning to work, but it will take time and effort.
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